'No dam! Can the dam!' - hundreds protest Waimea Community Dam $26m budget blowout

Opponents and supporters of a controversial dam project have clashed in Richmond, near Nelson today.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the Tasman District Council in protest of the proposed Waimea Community Dam, which is now estimated to cost more than $100 million.

Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne recently revealed the "gutting" news that cost estimates had blown out by $26 million dollars.

The proposed 53-metre high dam would be built in the Lee Valley in Tasman and is the council’s preferred option to solve the region’s "water shortage crisis".

The local council says the district isn’t meeting national freshwater policy standards for the Waimea River and it needs to either find a way to increase water flows or make cuts to the amount of water available to homes and businesses.

However, it now needs to find a way to plug the million dollar hole.

Currently, Waimea Irrigators have pledged to pay for almost half of the dam costs, while the council will pay just over a third.

Some ratepayers are infuriated by the possibility they will have to contribute more money.

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This morning, dam opponents made their voices heard by chanting "No dam! Can the dam!" outside the council building.

Dam supporters were also present, holding placards which read "no water, no jobs".

Councillors are now debating on the future of the dam, with a decision needing to be made by the end of the month.

Hundreds of people massed outside the Tasman District Council in Richmond, near Nelson, to protest today. Source: 1 NEWS